Title: Einstein

Author: ShooteM

Email: ag4bk@juno.com (Feed me Seymour, Feed me!)

Status: Complete

Category: adventure, H/C, Humor

Spoilers: The First Ones, Thor's Hammer

Season: 5th?

Rating: PG

Summary: SG-1 has to clean up another one of Maybourne's messes with the help of a new friend.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and the characters thereof are the property of MGM/UA, Gekko, and Double Secret Productions. Einstein is the property of Dean Koontz. This was written for entertainment purposes only, and no money exchanged hands. File Size: 102 KB

Einstein

It was early in the day when Jack got the call to General Hammond's office. A reprieve from the ever-increasing pile of paperwork there. He'd only hoped the General wasn't going to ask him for some report that he should have had already sent to him. A week ago.

He sauntered down the hallway and entered the outer office, waved in by the secretary. She had a little smile on her lips and a glint in her eye. Her face was always the first clue about what was going on in that office. He opened the door, "General?"

"Colonel." Hammond waved him to come in and close the door. O'Neill saw the General's eyes move to his left and following them he grimaced.

"Oh, crap. Maybourne, what are you doing here?" The Colonel's obvious dismay punctuated by a huffed sigh and eyes rolled to the ceiling. This guy was trouble with a capital T.

Not giving Maybourne a chance to speak, the Colonel turned to his CO. "General please. What 's going on here?"

"Colonel, a situation has developed which requires our cooperation."

"Cooperation!" The word tasted bad in O'Neill's mouth. "You mean HE Screwed somthing up and WE have to fix it!"

"That about sums it up, son. Have a seat, this is going to take a bit of explanation." Hammond turned to the silent up till now Maybourne. "You've got the floor."

Maybourne nodded a glance toward the General then turned to his adversary. "Look, Jack, you know we can handle anything you can. Our people have the finest honed abilities humanly possible. But you do have an edge we do not." O'Neills eyes narrowed, he caught that 'human' thing. "And what would that be, Harry?" He took the chance to return the familiarization Maybourne had started.

"Well, you have access to some non-human talents in your group. Namely your Jaffa and Major Carter."

O'Neill's eyebrows shot up. "His name is Teal'c and they were both human beings the last time I checked." The irritation was growing in his voice.

"Ah, yes, but one with a larva and the other with a little Naquadah in her blood. I think that adds a little non-human component, don't you?"

"Is there a point in here somewhere? You're wasting my time."

Hammond interjected, "You will get to the point now, won't you?"

Maybourne looked at the General, then down at the floor. He began to speak slowly; maybe it was a mistake to come here after all. "As you know our primary purpose is research and development. That means not just taking apart all the toys you bring back here but testing and..." His eyes locked with O'Neill's. "Experimentation."

"Shit. What did you do, Harry?" O'Neill's eyes were black as coal.

Maybourne swallowed hard. "We have been testing Goa'uld DNA. Who knows what benefits there would be if we could access their physical strength, power of healing, superior knowledge."

"Not to mention their overblown egos, delusions of godhood and schemes for domination of the universe!" Hammond glared at his 2IC, that one was almost worth a smile but he couldn't let it show. He raised his hand toward O'Neill. "Colonel."

Both men turned back to Maybourne. So he continued, "We've been doing some pretty in depth stuff in the genetics lab. Growing DNA, recombining it. We've tested it on several subjects. You know, mice, rabbits, like that. But we wanted a higher life form to test. We moved up to cats and dogs. We had a lot of failures. We needed to find something else to test, something not native to here. You remember a while back you brought back samples of DNA from non-human sources. One of them was an Unas. We grew one combined with the Goa'uld DNA we already had."

Jack was astonished. "You cloned an Unas? How could you do that?" Maybourne was smug now, "well, we do have a cutting edge genetics lab. Only the best stuff, you know. Shall I continue, gentlemen?" The Colonel answered with only raised eyebrows.

"Yes, we created an Unas. A superior one, I might add. Stronger, more intelligent and unfortunately more deadly. It could have been a perfect soldier, but it was uncontrollable. It was slated to be destroyed when it escaped."

Maybourne's last word hung in the air. There was silence from the two other officers. O'Neill rubbed one hand over his face, coming to rest over his mouth; he closed his eyes for a moment. The General's mouth dropped open. When he had recovered he said, "You're telling us that there is an Unas genetically enhanced with Goa'uld DNA loose somewhere on this planet?"

"That would be a fact, sir." Maybourne looked straight ahead, his face with no expression, but fully aware of what he had just said. "We thought Major Carter or the Jaffa might help us locate it."

The Colonel and the General locked eyes. They instantly communicated to each other just how bad the situation was and just how certain it was that SG-1 would be the ones to rescue the planet one more time. O'Neill looked now to Maybourne recalling the first time he met the Unas who was the first host. "Just how much Goa'uld are we talking here? Just a few brain cells over the edge or are we talking 'inmates taking over the asylum'?"

"He's more than over the edge, Jack. He knows what we did and hates us for it. Would like nothing better than to wipe out the planet. If you know what I mean."

"Oh, for crying out loud! Alright, I'll need every bit of intel you've got, and I'm not kidding. I want to know what we're up against in every aspect or we don't make a move. General, once we get an idea of where we're going we'll probably want SG-3 and anyone else available as back up."

Standing up the General replied, "You've got it, Colonel."

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That afternoon SG-1 was briefed and getting prepped to go to Nevada. O'Neill stood in the doorway to Daniel's lab. "You don't have to go, you know. It's strictly a military mission. Search and recover, no artifacts for you, and we're not even going off planet." Daniel looked at his friend. "Jack, I want to go, I need to go. I've dealt with these Unas more than anyone else. Maybe I can talk to him. Make him understand we're not all like Maybourne and his cronies. Help him."

Jack smiled and shook his head, leave it up to Daniel to want to make friends with a lab experiment gone wrong. Dangerously wrong. "Daniel, think about it, okay. I won't make it an order that you stay behind but I just can't see much talking happening. We probably won't get any closer than shooting distance. I don't want you to regret being there if the chance to take it alive doesn't happen."

"But you will make it happen, won't you, Jack? I-I mean it's not the Unas's fault that it's mentally unstable, is it?" Jack stood up straight, he was losing this argument. "You forgot highly intelligent and violent. That's a bad combination, Daniel."

"Well I'm coming anyway. Like it or not." He folded his arms across his chest and Jack knew the discussion was indeed over. With a sigh he responded, "Okay, gear up, we go topside in twenty."

O'Neill strode down the hallways to the officer's quarters to pick up his duffel that was packed and ready to go. He had already been by Major Carter's lab and she wasn't there, so he stopped by her quarters. "Oh, Hi, Colonel. I'm just about ready. You know I kinda wish I wasn't just wanted for the Naquadah in my blood. I get a real creepy feeling around those Nellis guys. I think they'd really like to dissect me."

"Major, don't let them bug you, you're not going because of the Naquadah. You've got as much experience dealing with an Unas as I do, and you're a competent soldier. The "feeling them" thing doesn't work unless you're in close proximity anyway, right? We're not going to be getting that close. And as far as dissecting you, well let one of them even look at you wrong and I'll do a little dissection of my own."

"Thanks, Sir. Ready?" "Yeah, let's swing by and get Teal'c."

The big Jaffa was just entering the hallway, ready to depart. "Teal'c, got everything you need?" "There is little I require, O'Neill. I presume weapons will be provided?" "Yeah, the General has seen to that, all our usual stuff plus a generous number of tranquilizer darts. He had your staff weapon wrapped up for the trip. "I will remember to thank him for that consideration." Teal'c was always more comfortable with the staff weapon than even the Zats.

----------------------------------------------------------- ---------

The flight to Nellis was uneventful. The team spoke briefly about different tactics they might employ and whether they would be tracking a being with the mind of a Goa'uld or an Unas. Neither would be easy. Both could be very dangerous.

Upon arrival they were greeted by a Lieutenant Franks who led them to the genetics research area for a more in-depth briefing on the being they were looking for. The department was large having several smaller labs and an area for larger animal subjects. Cages lined the walls of a particularly large room. There were a few sickly looking cats, some rats and monkeys. Daniel of course, had to pet a cat or two as he walked by. He always had to be touching. This time he was lucky none of them had those "violent" Goa'uld genes. At one end of the room was a cage large enough to be called a cell. It was nearly eight feet square, and empty. There was evidence that something had been there, the bedding was mashed down and there were some food bowls and utensils scattered around.

Beyond this room they were led to a conference room with a large window. The glass was obviously one-way design as the room it overlooked was a testing area. There were cameras set up and a plethora of scientific equipment. Maybourne was waiting for them.

"Harry, you should feel at home here with all the other rats." O'Neill commented. Maybourne ignored the insult. "I have something you might want to see here. Please sit down." They seated themselves in their usual positions around the briefing table back home. The lights were dimmed slightly and a projection screen lit up.

The scene was of the large cage they had just seen but with an occupant. A fully grown Unas was repeatedly thrashing about the room and striking out between the bars. It was darted and fell to the floor as the drugs took effect. After a moment another clip began. In this one the Unas was much more calm and was communicating on a rudimentary level with his keepers. He quietly accepted food and drink and allowed the keepers to be very close to the bars without threatening them. Suddenly his claw was wrapped around the neck of one of the men and the other was extracting the cell door keys from his lab coat pocket. There was screaming and confusion. Tranquillizer darts flew but had no effect. The cell door was opened and within a few moments four men were unconscious on the floor and the Unas was heading for the outer door. He stopped and looked straight at the surveillance camera. He lunged at it and the screen went to static.

The lights came up to a roomful of wary looks. Teal'c was the first to speak. "Colonel O'Neill, I believe this Unas will be difficult to restrain. It is unclear as to the usefulness of the darts." "I agree, Colonel." The Major added. "Those darts hit him and he just ignored them. Maybe he was faking when he was affected earlier." Teal'c's eyebrow raised. "Indeed."

O'Neill stood. "Okay, Maybourne, what leads do you have?"

Spreading out a large map of the surrounding area, Maybourne pointed out the areas they had already covered and ruled out. They'd found some tracks that morning out away toward the desert. O'Neill was thoughtful. "You know, if this animal, being, thing, is as smart as we think it is, why would it head out into nowhere? What's it gonna do, destroy some cactus and tumbleweeds? Push over some rocks? There's an awful lot right here it could use. If I wanted to destroy a planet, I'd go for the highest level of technology around. There's also a town within a day's walk. "

Daniel grinned. "So you're thinking like an Unas, Jack?" "No, Daniel, I'm a smart guy, an Unas might think like me!" Carter had to hide a snicker. She cleared her throat. "Sir, you think the tracks are another deception?"

"I'd bet on it Carter. Wild goose chase." Teal'c lowered his brows and looked to O'Neill. He understood about the wild horses thing but 'wild goose?' He opened his mouth to speak but the Colonel cut him off. "It's just an expression, Teal'c. Later."

O'Neill and Carter pumped Maybourne for information about what weapons and explosive devices were on the base, considering they might be the target of the Unas. Also any nearby community would be at risk. Las Vegas was too far away but the town of Rachel was only 40 or so miles due north. Of course that would mean he'd need to cross the dry Groom Lake and be out in the open quite a bit. The town of Alamo was due east and though longer, that route would exit Nellis Base the quickest.

Daniel wandered back to the big room and noticed there were no dogs. 'Didn't he say they used dogs, too?' So he went on out the far door just exploring the area a bit. There were several security posts and Daniel was relieved that his clearance level allowed him into just about anywhere. He was about to head back when he came to an area he was not permitted to go. The sign read "Higher Animal Studies." 'What kind of animal am I not allowed to see' he wondered, when he definitely heard what was a bark.

He hurried back to the conference room to find the Colonel and Maybourne in a heated debate about allowing additional SG teams access to the more restricted areas of the base. Maybourne was insisting their security was adequate when the Colonel slammed his hand down on the table. "And just how, with this excellent security of yours, did this Unas get out of the lab and off the base anyway?"

Maybourne stood upright and took a slow breath. "We aren't sure. It appears he was able to circumvent quite a few checkpoints and hotwire a few doors." "What!" The Colonel and Major exclaimed together. "A top secret installation like this and all it takes to escape is to 'hotwire' a door?" The Colonel was furious.

"Uh, Jack? I know this probably isn't the best timing but, can I have a word with you?" Daniel sheepishly broke into the conversation.

"It's okay, Daniel, I think we need a break here anyway." He led the younger man to the side of the room and forced calmness into his speech. "So what's going on?"

Daniel folded his arms across his chest, "I think there's definitely something going on. Something Maybourne doesn't want us to know about. You know he said they had done animal testing, and failed. Well, do you think ALL of the testing failed? What if they even had a limited success with another species?" The Colonel's eyes narrowed as Daniel caught his interest and waved the Major over to hear what was being said.

"It's highly likely, Sir, that they did have at least some success somewhere along the line. Limited, but worth looking at." Carter looked to her CO with an upraised eyebrow.

O'Neill turned back to Daniel, "What gave you a clue that something was up with this?" Daniel quickly recounted his meanderings and the room to which he was denied access, including the sound he'd heard. "He said they used dogs, didn't he?"

"He certainly did, Daniel." Then turning to Maybourne who was slowly inching away from Teal'c, having gotten a little too close. "Maybourne, there's one more thing I'd like to see before we go a-hunting your Unas friend." Maybourne looked like he would agree to anything to get out of that room.

They retraced part of Daniel's earlier path and stopped at the barred door. "Colonel O'Neill, I must insist that only you enter here. This lab is of the highest security level and I could deny even you entrance. But, I'd like to prove to you that there might be some merit to saving this Unas instead of blowing him away on first sight." Daniel looked dejected and Carter looked completely unamused. "Alright, Maybourne, granted. You guys have seat in that lab across the way and I'll be right back."

The door was opened and the two men entered. The Colonel was immediately aware that this area did not seem to be so sterile and antiseptic as the other labs. It was almost homey in some ways. Oh, there were the obligatory gray filing cabinets, desks and chairs, an office to one side, and an observation room with the usual one-way glass. There were two women working at their desks, shuffling papers and obviously trying not to notice their guests. Maybourne led on to the observation area, then gestured toward the large room beyond.

It looked for all the world like a child's playroom. There was a very low table covered with all sorts of colored blocks, books, crayons and papers. There was a small brightly colored gym with a slide on one side. On another very low table at the back of the room was a computer. The screen saver was active revealing a bouncing ball. There was a small aquarium with goldfish swimming in it and beside it was a pile of blankets and pillows. In the far right corner was a small television set with a cartoon show playing. The Colonel tilted his head to one side taking in the scene. The only other thing in the room was a Golden Retriever dog. It was lying down facing the TV set wagging it's tail. The oddest thing was that the dog seemed to be really interested in the TV show.

Maybourne gestured to the animal, "This, is the reason we wanted to experiment on a higher level of being." He puffed out his chest with pride as if this great accomplishment was his alone. "Come with me."

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They went back to the office area and down a short hallway. Through another room and down a few steps. Then Maybourne opened a heavy door. They were in the playroom. The Colonel was intrigued, this was some kind of Top Secret project? They wouldn't even let Daniel see it? What a crock! But there was something niggling at the back of his mind. His instinct was shouting at him that this was far from what it appeared to be. The dog turned to regard the two men. Its head was cocked to one side, large expressive brown eyes glanced at Maybourne then rested upon O'Neill. The animal looked directly into his eyes. The tail slowed as if the dog were thinking, sizing up the visitor.

Maybourne led them over toward the dog and extended his hand. "Colonel O'Neill, I'd like to introduce you to Einstein." The animal stood as it eyed Maybourne's outstretched hand. It backed up a few steps. "Oh, come now, don't be rude. Turn off that damn TV and come over here."

The dog looked down at the floor, then with a low huff, went to the TV set and pressed the on/off switch with its nose. The TV turned off. He then walked slowly over toward O'Neill, circling to keep some distance from Maybourne. O'Neill smiled, even this dog had Maybourne pegged. Just as the thought went through his mind, the dog softly woofed and started wagging its tail furiously.

The next few minutes were a demonstration of the animal's abilities. Maybourne gave verbal commands and Einstein did what was asked, albeit not always fast enough for his master. The dog was actually looking dejected or was it embarrassed? O'Neill watched with fascination as Einstein identified items on the table correctly, including individual playing cards, numbered blocks and toys. He even typed out short words on the computer keyboard using a modified bootie on his right front paw. It had a stylus attached to it that could be used to more easily press keys on the keyboard. This was a smart dog! But "Classified?"

O'Neill decided to play it cool. "Okay, okay, so he does tricks. Are you going to tell me what this is all about?" Maybourne's face flushed. He quickly recovered and glanced sideways at O'Neill. "Perhaps I was mistaken to bring you in here. You obviously lack the aptitude to appreciate what we have done. This animal is the same as the Unas. It's made of dog AND Goa'uld DNA. Don't you get it Jack? We did have a success story, and here it is. This animal isn't doing tricks, it 'understands' what it's doing. Here, Einstein?" He called the dog over to him. "Go get the book you were reading earlier today, give it to Jack."

The dog looked at O'Neill for a moment equating in its mind that "Jack" was the same person he had been told was "Colonel O'Neill." He went over to as pile of books and selected one. He carried it to O'Neill and sat at his feet, holding the book up toward him. O'Neill smiled down at him, he really liked this dog. He took the offered book and turned it over in his hand. The title was "The Universe in a Nutshell" by Stephen Hawking.

"Hey, I've read this! It's pretty heady stuff! Come on, you've got to be kidding! I'm not gonna fall for this crap." He glanced from Maybourne to the dog and back. Maybourne shook his head as one of the women they saw earlier came to the doorway, "Colonel Maybourne, I have a call for you." Maybourne strode to the door, "Stay here Jack, enjoy your book."

O'Neill sat on the edge of the low table and looked down at the dog. "Well, it's just you and me now, you got anything to say?" Einstein sat at the Colonel's feet and laid his head in his lap, their brown eyes gazing into each other. O'Neill's mind wandered, what was Maybourne up to? How we they going to find the Unas? When they found it what were they going to do with it?

Einstein was still gazing so deeply into Jack's eyes Jack found himself lost in them. Suddenly Einstein jumped up and ran to the computer. He slipped on his 'glove' with a little help of his teeth and started typing. O'Neill walked over to view the screen.

NO GOOD FEEL HIM HELP HIM

What strange words for the dog to type. O'Neill rubbed his hand over the back of his neck, and leaned his head down. Suddenly his eyebrows jerked up, then his head. Those were answers to the three questions he had asked himself. "Holy buckets! Did you know what I was thinking?" He said it more to himself than to the dog, still not fully comprehending the scope of his discovery. Einstein was wagging his tail furiously and excitedly panting. He typed out:

Y E S

O'Neill dropped down to one knee, to be on the same level with this newfound friend. 'Holy, shit!' No wonder Maybourne was so secretive at first and then tried to show off. Not only was the dog intelligent on a human level, it was telepathic! "Does Maybourne know all of this, about you?" How odd to find himself conversing with a dog!

NOT ALL

'There's a plus' the Colonel thought. Suddenly he had a million questions. What would you ask a smart dog if you had the chance? Found any fleas lately? Does dog food really taste good to you? What's that crotch sniffing thing all about? Or, serious now, the Colonel made eye contact with the dog and asked, "What did you mean about 'Feeling' the Unas?"

The door from the hallway opened and the woman stepped inside, "Colonel, I'm sorry Colonel Maybourne will return shortly, he asked me to check on you." "I'm okay, thanks" She looked as if she wanted to find some reason to stay and keep an eye on him. "No, really, I'm okay, just petting the dog, you know I used to have a dog like this, I kinda miss him." She raised an eyebrow, frowned and retreated from the room.

O'Neill turned back to Einstein, "We don't have much time."

HELP ME

"Whoa! You're a prisoner here aren't you? You're intelligent and they're keeping you locked in this little room. Not much of a life is it?" The Colonel's mind started formulating a plan. It wasn't that the animal could be useful in tracking the Unas, he genuinely liked him and couldn't stand the idea of that slimy-assed Maybourne treating an intelligent being like a circus act.

As the door was being unlatched, O'Neill quickly spoke to the dog, "Trust me." Einstein pressed the "Esc" key and the screen went blank. As O'Neill stood he felt something being stuffed in his hand. It was the computer "glove" Einstein had been using. He shoved his hand in his pocket.

"Alright Colonel O'Neill, time to go. You see there's nothing of use to you in here, we're wasting valuable time."

"Maybourne, you're wrong there. You said this animal is the same as the Unas, all mixed up with Goa'uld DNA. Right? I'm betting this dog can track the Unas better than Teal'c! We need him, and you're gonna authorize me to take custody right now."

Maybourne froze. "You can't!"

"Do you want your Unas back or not? This is your best bet. Do it now!" The two Colonels faced off for a moment, then the lesser one backed down. "Alright! Alright! But you've got to sign out the proper release papers and you'll be responsible for him at all times."

"Shut up Maybourne, get the papers ready, I'll sign them. Come on, Einstein, I've know some people you've just got to meet." With that Colonel O'Neill strode out of the room followed by one very happy tail wagging dog.

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Major Carter, Daniel and Teal'c were bored to say the least. Daniel was pacing, every time he got close to the door, he'd stop and look at it. Maybe he'd been wrong, there was nothing to see in that lab, and Maybourne had Jack in there, probably giving him a hard time.

Suddenly the door burst open admitting a golden mass of energy. The dog made for Jackson first who crouched to accommodate the greeting of pants and licks and wisps of fur flying about. He responded with petting and scratching the ears. "Daniel, I knew you were a dog person." The Colonel smiled.

O'Neill nodded to Teal'c and his 2IC, and then strode over to her. He touched her shoulder and leaned over so close that she could feel his warm breath on her ear and neck. He spoke low and even that close she had to strain a bit to hear. "I have a lot to tell you. We need to get out of here, now." His final word was little more than a growl. He leaned back and their eyes met, nothing further needing to be said. She glanced up at the security camera. There were way too many eyes and ears in this place.

As O'Neill took a step back and regarded his 2IC, she pointed to the security camera and spoke. "Sir, we've been discussing the security measures that were circumvented. Security within the compound appears to be adequate. Perhaps we should do some recon of the perimeter and maybe have a look at those tracks they found earlier." His eyes followed her gesture to the camera. 'Shit.' he thought. Everything that transpired between himself and the dog was probably on tape somewhere and had likely already been seen.

Carter took a step toward Einstein who backed up a step. Then she felt it, the Goa'uld presence within the animal. She froze for a moment and realized the dog was sensing the Naquadah in her own blood. 'Wow!' O'Neill made for the door, "Daniel, Teal'c, let's go."

They followed protocol and let Maybourne know where they were going and no, they did not need an escort. They signed out a Jeep and headed to the location of the tracks. O'Neill didn't speak the whole drive out. Teal'c was deep in thought wondering what the strange sensations were coming obviously from the furry animal. Carter was driving and kept her eyes and thoughts focused just on that. Soon enough the Colonel would give her a lot more to ponder. And Daniel and Einstein were a pair. Both sitting back, allowing the wind to blow through their hair, happy to be out of the stale, sterile base and in the sun.

Once at the site, they walked a short way to the marked area where the tracks were seen. Something had definitely been there, may have even slept here a while. The tracks were from large clawed feet. The Unas. There were some discarded food containers and evidence of a small campfire.

Satisfied they were alone, the Colonel began to speak. "Alright, kids. We've got a lot of planning to do in a very short time." He gestured for them all to sit. He and the Major sat on a log while Daniel chose a patch of grass and Teal'c sat right where he had been standing in his usual cross legged pose. Einstein chose to sit beside the Colonel, on the opposite side from Carter. He sat with his rump to the log, leaning against the Colonel's leg.

"Let me start with introductions. This is Einstein. This is going to seem a bit strange so bear with me for a few minutes and don't interrupt." The team braced for a lengthy briefing on what the Colonel had discussed with Maybourne when they were alone. Instead the Colonel said, "I'd like to introduce each of you to Einstein individually. It's important he trusts you." Three sets of eyebrows raised but all knew their CO too well to interrupt even if he was about to give new meaning to the word unconventional.

Gesturing toward Carter, O'Neill spoke. "Einstein, this is Major Samantha Carter, my second in command, she's a theoretical astrophysicist, PhD, you know, scientist, she also was once a host to a Goa'uld and still has Naquadah in her blood. You've probably already sensed that. You'll like her once you get to know her." The Colonel's eyes twinkled a bit and he smiled as he reiterated the words Carter had spoken to him just before their first mission together.

"The big guy over there is Teal'c. He's a Jaffa. I don't know if you can understand that. The short short version is that he carries a Goa'uld larva around in a pouch in his stomach. He doesn't have any real direct contact with it but it keeps him very strong and heals wounds quickly. He used to be the number one warrior of a very nasty Goa'uld but now he is on our side. He doesn't always get some of the stuff we say, but he's learning. Look out for his sense of humor." Teal'c sat up straight. Of all the bizarre things the Colonel sometimes did, this was by far the strangest. He agreed with the Colonel's assessment, but could see no point in speaking it and to a lower life form such as this. Was the Colonel really speaking to the dog?

"The kid with the messy hair is Daniel." Daniel blushed and ran a hand through his hair still mussed from the ride out. "He's an archaeologist and linguist, he has a knack for getting into trouble, but to be honest, he's been the one to get us all out of more scrapes than I can remember. If there's a dusty artifact within ten miles he's got to touch it." Einstein looked up at the Colonel and made a huffing sound. "Yeah, I know, but you've got to humor him, he takes it personally if you call them rocks."

Carter couldn't hold it in any longer. "You don't think you're actually communicating with a dog, do you?" "Major, I'm not through yet, would you can it for a few more minutes?" She shut her mouth and nodded, glaring at him for wasting their time like this.

Turning back to Einstein who turned to look straight into his eyes, O'Neill continued. "These three are my team, and much more than that. I trust each of them with my life, and have done it many times over. These are in fact my family." The three all had the same expression on their faces. It was a rare thing for O'Neill to lavish such praise but to openly admit his feelings for them? This was getting out of hand.

O'Neill looked at his team and opened his mouth, to start to explain, but Einstein butted his nose up against O'Neill's leg. "What?" Einstein put his front paws up on the log next to O'Neill and raised himself up to near eye level. He placed one paw briefly on O'Neill's chest, and then sat down. "What do you want, boy?" This time the animal was insistent. He moved directly in front of O'Neill and placed both of his front paws in Jack's lap, rising up, he looked O'Neill in the eye and then stuck his nose to O'Neill's chest for a moment.

Daniel was fascinated, and spoke up. "Einstein, you want to know something about Jack, don't you?"

Carter rolled her eyes, now they're both talking to the dog. But it did seem to be a very perceptive animal. Einstein barked once and looked at Jack.

"Okay, but there's not much to tell. I don't do the stuff these guys do, I'm just an old soldier." Einstein snorted. "Oh, you don't believe me, huh?" Einstein shook his head. "Okay, I'm Colonel Jonathan O'Neill, USAF, and I've been there long enough to retire and be reactivated, twice." Einstein snorted again. "Did anyone ever tell you you're pushy? Okay. Everything I've done for the past 12 or 13 years has been classified and special ops stuff, if I told you I'd have to kill you." Einstein snorted and turned around bumping Jack's leg with his behind as he did.

Teal'c had both eyebrows raised, Carter was suppressing a giggle, and Daniel was rolling on the grass laughing. Carter spoke up first, "Sir, are you gonna EVER tell us what's going on?"

Einstein moved from person to person, sniffing and being doglike again, except for that gazing into their eyes, something very not doglike. O'Neill explained that the dog was a product of animal and Goa'uld DNA and seemed to be a real success story if Maybourne could ever to have claimed one. He told them about the tricks Maybourne had him do and the short conversation they'd had via the computer.

"Sir, I don't think telepathy is a Goa'uld characteristic." "I agree, ColonelO'Neill, if telepathy were a Goa'uld trait then would not my larva be able to communicate with me or influence me?"

O'Neill was thoughtful, "I don't know where it came from, maybe there's some other DNA involved, but I know he is. He told me he can 'feel' the Unas. Maybe it's not just the Goa'uld, maybe it's some kind of mental link." Einstein was back at the Colonel's side now, panting happily and accepting Jack absent-mindedly scratching him behind the ear.

Daniel sat up and addressed Einstein. "Do you know where the Unas is?" One nod. "You feel him now?" One nod. "What? Well, How far away is he? Is he here? How do you know it's him, you can sense something in Sam and Teal'c, right? Is it the same thing?" Einstein hung his head low. "Easy boy," O'Neill stroked his head. "Daniel, how about one thing at a time, huh?"

Carter interjected, "You know, Sir, I've got a laptop computer with me." O'Neill smiled and drew the 'glove' out of his pocket. "You game, boy?" One bark and a frantically wagging tail.

Carter set up the computer where Einstein could reach the keyboard and they could all see the screen. O'Neill helped Einstein with the glove. "Okay, who's first?"

Carter spoke. "Sir, if I may? Einstein, you can sense the Unas?" Einstein nodded, no need to use the keyboard to answer that one. "Where is it?"

FAR

Daniel was fascinated by the way the animal carefully chose the keys to press. "So how far can you feel it?"

VERY

"And you're sure you aren't sensing Sam or Teal'c?"

NOT SAME

O'Neill touched the dogs back, "We really need to find it, Einstein. It's dangerous, you understand that?" Einstein nodded and then turned back to the keyboard.

VERY

-------------------------------------------------

They already had a considerable amount of ordnance in the Jeep, just in case. Carter pulled up a map of the area on her laptop. Einstein pointed out where they should begin. They loaded up and drove around the east side of the base, approaching a formidable high fence with barbed wire along the top. Einstein was disinterested for most of the trip but as they went along he became more and more alert. As they came upon a large stand of rocks and scrub trees he unexpectedly jumped out of the Jeep.

"Kids, we're here! Spread out."

Carter and Einstein went straight to the fence and inspected a large opening. It was not cut cleanly but had been effectively ripped apart. The loose piece of fencing was fitted back in the hole and from a distance the fence looked whole.

She crouched looking at a footprint in the dirt. It was the same claw mark she'd seen before. She looked at the furry face and shrugged. She felt a bit stupid but spoke anyway. "Einstein, is the Unas nearby?" He slowly gave her a nod. "You think he'll come back this way?" The dog cocked his head to one side, unsure.

The Colonel approached. "Carter, talking to animals, now?" She frowned. "Sir, take a look at the fence here. It looks like the Unas has gotten off the base. Einstein thinks the Unas may be closer now. If he was heading east he might have found a place to rest until dark. He could be anywhere between here and Alamo." O'Neill eyed the opening in the fence. Crap. It looked like they'd have to abandon the Jeep and follow on foot as they were still inside the barrier.

"Okay, we need to come up with a plan soon." He pressed the button on his radio, "Daniel, Teal'c, come over to the fence."

When they arrived the Colonel laid out a simple plan. It made sense the Unas would continue to head east. The northern route would cross Groom Lake and the southern way was back onto the base. The high fence ran almost due east along the Nellis boundary line from here. They'd travel along it as far as they could before dark, and hope to get ahead of the Unas. At least there were no reports of any unusual occurrences out this way. O'Neill ordered Daniel to return to the base with the Jeep.

"Why can't I stay? You think I'll get in they way?" "No, Daniel, someone has to take the Jeep back. I don't want to just leave it here, besides you need to brief SG-3 and let them know where we are."

"What? When did you contact them?"

"Before we left the base I called Hammond and sent for back up. We can't be running around the desert with only Maybourne knowing where we are, now can we? SG-3 should be waiting at the airstrip with helicopters and some other toys. We're going to need some aerial recon, go with them, you can join up with us later." Daniel was still a bit miffed but agreed and after supplies were unloaded, set off in the Jeep alone.

----------------------------------------------------------- --

O'Neil, Carter and Teal'c took a short rest and heated up some coffee and MRE's. They'd packed as if they were going off world and were ready to head out again in no time. There wasn't going to be any more time to rest until backup arrived later.

The walking was somewhat level and since they were used to long hikes, they covered several miles quickly. O'Neill paused and knelt to offer Einstein some water poured into his hand. "What do you think, boy? Which direction is the Unas?" Einstein was thoughtful for a moment and then turned his face back the way they came and slightly to the north. The land in that direction was a little hilly and lightly forested. A good place to hide especially if a cave could be found. O'Neill ordered his team to move to a more northerly location among the rocks and trees. It was getting dark and they spread out to just within sight of each other and prepared to lie in wait for the Unas.

O'Neill stroked the dog's head slowly. The touch was comforting to both of them. Maybe a bit too much. O'Neill dozed off and was startled awake by a cold nose on his cheek. The nuzzling didn't stop when he awoke so he straightened up and took a look around. He couldn't see Carter or Teal'c even though the moon was bright and cast eerie shadows in the rocks.

Carter hunkered down in her hiding place. She was going to be stiff in the morning, the hard rocks were bad enough but it was getting chilly, too. She suddenly felt something was wrong. She felt...it was a Goa'uld. She raised her P-90 and looked all around, nothing. She never saw it coming, a clawed hand grabbed from behind covering her mouth and nose. Another claw grabbed around her waist and lifted her out of the crevice. She struggled but it was too strong and she passed out. She only managed to dislodge a few small stones, sending them scattering down in the rocks.

Einstein kept on nuzzling O'Neill and he finally asked, "Is it coming?" A frantic nod. "Here? Now?" More nodding. O'Neill searched the rock face for any indication but there was none. He heard the sound of stones falling and touched the button on his radio, "Carter?" he whispered. There was no response. He stood in time to see the Jaffa exit his shadowed hiding place. They both made for Carter's position. She was gone. O'Neill clamped his mouth shut to keep the swearing inside.



The Colonel was livid. They had searched all night and come up empty. O'Neill was mentally kicking himself the whole time. He should have made Einstein go sit with Carter. Maybe they should have all gone back to the base and met up with SG-3. It was a stupid mistake to not wait for backup. But then, black ops type missions were nothing new for his team. They should have been able handle one crazy Unas, right? Something was bothering him, deep in the back of his mind where his Special Ops training and experience melded together to become instinct. He couldn't quite place it so he let it go, for now.

Even Einstein didn't know where the Unas had gone. The choppers never showed up and they decided to walk back to the base. Walking in as straight a line as possible, they walked for hours when finally spotting a Jeep advancing on their position. How much could go wrong in such a short time?

O'Neill leaned heavily on Maybourne's desk, resisting the urge to reach across it and clamp his fingers around that short neck and squeeze. SG-3 was at the landing strip with helicopters as promised but Maybourne had denied them permission to fly. Upon arriving back at the base O'Neill had found a flushed and exasperated Daniel who had been awake all night trying to convince someone, anyone, to get the birds in the air. Didn't happen. He'd appreciated the young man's efforts but seeing a second member of his team in distress only made him more angry at Maybourne.

"You may want to know, I've decided not to shoot you. I'm going to disembowel you." The Colonel's voice was slightly above a growl. Teal'c was standing in the corner glowering but at the Colonel's words an evil grin filled his face. He would back any actions O'Neill may take against this vermin.

Hammond had also been livid when O'Neill briefed him on the events of the previous night. Livid enough to pick up the red phone and light up the telephone lines. A guarded reprimand had come from the White House itself to the Nellis base and had landed securely on Maybourne's desk. There WOULD be cooperation with the efforts of the SGC or the leniency enjoyed by the base would be a thing of the past. There were key positions opening up in Alaska and Bosnia, it seemed.

So O'Neill stormed out of the office. Teal'c followed after nodding his head toward Maybourne, still grinning. Maybourne felt a freezing chill run down his back.

After making plans with SG-3 and sending out two helicopters to do recon runs, the Colonel sat, exhausted in his assigned quarters. Einstein had become his shadow, never leaving his side. Maybourne hadn't mustered the courage to ask for the dog's return. Jack ruffled the hair on the dog's head. All he could think of was Sam. Neutralizing the Unas was a distant second priority now. He didn't want to sleep but knew he had to. He lay down on the bed after setting the alarm clock for four hours. He didn't really plan to drop off to sleep so quickly but exhaustion claimed him. Einstein watched for a while from the floor. The man's sleep was restless, images of pain and despair but mostly of a longing to embrace the blonde haired woman. Einstein slowly crawled into the bed and settled himself along the Colonel's side. He missed the woman too.

----------------------------------------------------------- -------

Carter awoke in a damp dark cave. A small hole in the ceiling admitted the only light. The floor was littered with newspapers and magazines. There were some blankets strewn aside and various other articles giving the area the rather odd appearance of a teenager's messy room. She was dizzy and her head was pounding. Her weapons were gone but her pack was here, the contents dumped haphazardly on the floor. She picked up her canteen and gratefully found it full of water. After drinking deeply she surveyed the room in more detail. She remembered how she got here, wherever here was.

After a few minutes she felt strong enough to explore a little. She slowly moved down an opening where it seemed fresh air flowed. A dim light was filtering through from beyond. Suddenly she was face to face with the Unas. He hissed at her and she jumped back several feet. She'd seen Unas before and seen this one on the tape, but he looked much larger than she remembered. He stepped toward her and she fled back to the larger room at the back of the cave. She stopped up against the wall, shuddering.

"You have come here to destroy me!" She was shocked! She'd never heard an Unas use human speech before. "You will not succeed." He circled the room slowly, giving her a straight shot at the door if she was bold enough to take it. She took a breath and ran for the doorway but the Unas was too fast. He blocked her with one outstretched arm and sent her flying into the wall. Her cheek hit full force and her lip split. Putting her hand to her mouth she stifled a sob. She always considered herself strong, with an 'I can take care of myself' attitude, but right now she would have done anything to see her team. Especially one larger than life Jack O'Neill who was so well known for spitting at the 'no win' scenario. The Unas wasn't done with her. He kicked and spat at her. He grabbed her arms and shoved her around until her shoulders ached. She tried to talk to him telling him they could help him, that it didn't have to be like this. He didn't care. Eventually he bored of the game and tied her hands and feet and shoved her into a corner. She slept, grateful to be free from her pain for a while.

----------------------------------------------------------- ----------------

The Colonel awoke several minutes before the alarm was slated to go off. He was rested physically but not mentally, his heart ached inside. A vague thought was still tapping at the back of his mind like he had missed something important. He allowed himself a moment of amusement when he found Einstein had helped himself to the bed and had managed to commandeer more than half of it. "Wake up, boy. It's time to go rescue the princess."

A short while later the group met to brief on the recon mission and plans were made. They were in the same conference room used earlier by Maybourne, who gratefully was nowhere to be found now. During the course of the briefing the Colonel glanced at the tape they'd seen earlier of the Unas' escape and decided to play it again for the benefit of SG-3. As the playback ended, O'Neill's eyes narrowed, there it was, the something that had been bugging him since last night. He backed up the tape a short way and replayed it, hitting 'pause' as the Unas captured the technician by the neck and reached for the keys. He squinted at the screen.

Colonel Makepeace was watching O'Neill with interest. What was the man looking at? "O'Neill, you gonna let us in on your little secret?" The other Colonel glanced at his counterpart and then back to the screen. "I don't know about you guys, but if I were grabbed around the throat by a claw like that, I think I might have a little more expression on my face than that guy." He gestured to the screen. They all looked closer at the screen. The technician did, in fact, look calm.

Daniel blew out his breath. "He almost looks like he was expecting that to happen." "Like it was a scene acted out for an audience." O'Neill added.

Makepeace looked at them both like they were crazy. "What audience?"

"Are not these video security devices monitored at all times O'Neill?"

"Yes, Teal'c, they are. So, our next question is, who would want to orchestrate the escape of the Unas?"

"And keep Maybourne out of the loop?" Makepeace added.

Daniel cut in, "You think he doesn't know? Maybe he just doesn't want us to know that he knows." Colonel Makepeace gave an irritated glance to Daniel and then glared at O'Neill. How did he put up with this guy on his team?

"Okay folks, we've got a lot of unanswered questions here. Our priority is now search and rescue. We locate Carter and get her out. But stay on your toes, this whole thing is beginning to feel like a set up and we are either the target or the bait."

"Crap," Makepeace shook his head. Why oh why was it never simple when it involved SG-1?

It didn't take them long to get geared up and headed to the helicopters. The plan was to search a grid hopefully narrowed with Einstein's help. This time O'Neill didn't even suggest that Daniel stay behind. His team needed to be together for this. Win or lose, they'd go together. It was late afternoon when they lifted off, Carter was missing for more than 12 hours now.



The Unas had come back and released her bonds. Maybe he had a shred or two of compassion or maybe he just needed her alive. He gave her the canteen and allowed her to take a protein bar from the contents of her pack. She ate, forcing herself to ignore the nausea. She needed to get some strength back. Of course there was a search effort going on, it was a comforting thought, but she had no idea how far she was from the rocky hill where she was taken.

The Unas left her loose this time. She scouted the interior walls again but the only way out seemed to be the passageway where she'd gone the day before. Hearing no sounds from that direction, she slinked along the wall. It was a tall slender passage twisting and turning. The light she saw before was not a large opening but only a crack in the ceiling far above her head. She continued on as the light faded to blackness. Finally ahead she could see dim light again. The opening was getting larger eventually becoming a large room. She made to enter sliding along one wall but suddenly was in contact with a force field. It sparked as she touched it and threw her back several feet. She groaned as she landed on already sore muscles.

The Unas heard her and came to face her through the shield. Malevolence oozed from his glare. Then he made a sound that might have been a laugh and stalked away. Her shoulders drooped. At least he wasn't going to start shoving her around again. She sat on the ground and leaned against the rock wall. It was cold and hard but she didn't care. At length she surveyed her surroundings, or rather the contents of the cave she was kept out of. The Unas wasn't the only thing missing from Nellis, he'd taken some technology with him.

------------------------------------------

The helicopters made good time to the eastern border of the Nellis Base and set down for the teams to start the ground search. They had narrowed the search area down considerably and with some more help from Einstein were soon closing in on a likely position.

"O'Neill, this area would seem to be highly defensible." O'Neill agreed. There were more trees here and several deep clefts in the rocks, any of which may led to a cave. "Good place to make a stand, huh?" Suddenly their conversation was cut short by an explosion to their left. One of the SG-3 members was hurtled into the air and landed with a thud and a groan. Makepeace leapt to his man's side as everyone else froze their positions to ascertain the threat. O'Neill moved slowly away from Teal'c to a better vantage point and clicked the button on his radio. He quietly spoke into the device, "Makepeace!"

"I'm here. We're heading the right direction for sure. Damn animal set up a perimeter. Carson's leg is gonna be a mess for a while but he's okay."

Shit, they were gonna have to be more careful. They'd underestimated the enemy already. "Alright," O'Neill hissed, "move your men out to the left, Teal'c and I will go right. Just spread out for now, and look sharp for any more traps. I don't want anyone getting closer until we've got a handle on this thing."

In the next few minutes Teal'c had spotted another device with a trip wire and disarmed it. One of Makepeace's men found another far to the left near the edge of the trees. O'Neill called on the radio and ordered the choppers to take up positions on the far side of the hill they'd come up to. The remaining men were ready to drop and hold the line there if needed.

Out of the darkness a Zat blast suddenly took out the tree right next to Teal'c and he dropped and rolled just in time to spot the creature duck behind a tree. O'Neill had Makepeace's attention and signaled him silently to circle back to an eleven o'clock position to Teal'c. He intended to corral the Unas in his direction.

They closed in slowly and came within sight of each other again. Makepeace checked with his men and then looked at O'Neill with a shrug. "No sign of him."

O'Neill could have spat. It wasn't their fault, they'd done exactly as he ordered. How did the thing get past him? They should have seen him. He scanned the hillside with his eyes. "He's gone to ground." "Why do you think that? He just got away." Makepeace argued.

"Uh, uh. I'm not buying that. He's got something here to protect or why set up the perimeter?" O'Neill gave a short whistle for Einstein to join him. The dog was visibly shaken but came to his side despite his fear. O'Neill knelt and rubbed his head, "This has gotten you a little shaken up, huh? It's gonna be over soon but there's something you've got to do first. The Unas is here close, we need an exact location. Can you do that?" Einstein whimpered but nodded once.

O'Neill stayed beside the dog as he walked ahead, stopping frequently to choose a direction. He stopped at a rocky outcropping surrounded by scrubby trees and crouched. O'Neill took that chance to shine his flashlight ahead into the darkness. It was a cave entrance, low but accessible. He turned to signal Makepeace and his men, as all hell broke loose.

One of the Helicopters started firing on the other lighting the sky with fire and being so close to the ground position the noise was deafening. Shots were being fired from all directions behind them in the woods. They'd been outflanked, but by whom? O'Neill was right in the cave entrance and suddenly heard another sound above the clamor all around. It was Carter's voice, yelling for him.

She had heard the helicopters and stood up trying to see beyond the force field. The Unas was probably just a bit further down the passageway. She had to give it a try. She started yelling at the top of her lungs. "Colonel! Colonel, I'm here! Jack! I'm here!"

He left the firefight to Makepeace and stepped into the cave. Slowly he moved in, sticking close to the wall and placing his feet carefully to not allow his boots to crunch on the rocks. Suddenly a Zat blast struck the wall opposite him close enough to feel the heat from the released energy.

He leaned back to the wall as tightly as he could and closed his eyes listening. The sounds of the battle above was muffled here underground and he could soon hear movement in the cave beyond. He steadied his P-90 and decided to make a move. He leapt from his hiding place and rolled on the ground, weapon raised and his finger already beginning to depress the trigger and he saw her. The Unas had Carter by the throat and was using her as a shield. He was snarling and his claws were causing droplets of blood to begin to ooze from their tightness on her skin.

Their eyes met, his in anger and surprise and hers in pleading. He rose to one knee never taking the weapon away from its target. "Let her go. Let her go, now." His voice was deep and throaty, commanding his adversary to comply. The Unas backed up slightly, taking Carter with him. But there was nowhere to go. O'Neill's eyes met with his 2IC's and she knew he was going to shoot. His aim appeared to be centered at her head. She knew what she had to do. She had to duck just enough to give him a shot at the Unas' head directly behind hers. She was slightly off balance but her arms were free. She bit her lip and drew her left arm across to her right side. Tightening her fist she swung as hard as she could bringing her elbow into contact with her captors ribs. It was just enough to make him loosen his grip and she dove for the ground.

She expected to hear gunfire as O'Neill fired at the Unas, but there was none. She raised her head to see O'Neill slumped face down on top of his weapon, a red tufted dart was sticking out of his neck. She turned to see the Unas with four darts in his chest, now unconscious also. A moment later she felt the pinch in her own neck and collapsed to the floor.

------------------------------------------

O'Neill was awakened by the feeling of something wet rubbing his cheek. "What the hell?" He rolled to his side and felt the sore spot on his neck. Something bumped his shoulder and he turned to find himself face to face with Einstein who now began to frantically lick the Colonel's nose. He squinted and pulled back. "Whoa! Okay, okay, I'm up already!" He wiped his face and looked around the cavern. He spotted Carter several feet away from his position and sprinted to her side. He pulled the dart from her neck and turned her over. God, she was a mess, bruised, bloodied and dirty. He checked for a pulse. It was there, steady, a little weak though. Her breathing was shallow too. He breathed a sigh of relief and cradled her in his arms.

He glanced around the cave. No Unas. Did he escape? Doubtful, and where did those darts come from? Crap. Double crap. He listened and heard no sounds of fighting outside the cave. Whatever had happened was over. He thumbed his radio and called, "Teal'c!"

"O'Neill, it is I. What is you're present location?" The Jafffa's voice was calm and unhurried.

"Teal'c what happened out there?"

"Colonel Makepeace believes it was an ambush. Do you require assistance?"

"Hell, yeah. I've got Carter here and she's unconscious. I'm sending Einstein out to show you our location."

"Very well."

O'Neill motioned to the exit passage way and Einstein set off at a run. O'Neill adjusted his P-90 and with a little protest from his knee lifted Carter off the ground. He carried her to the cave entrance and met Daniel followed by two medics with a stretcher.

He gently laid her down and let the medics do their thing. "Where did these guy come from?" he questioned Daniel.

"We've been looking for you for over an hour, you know. Anyone else who was injured has already been airlifted away."

Makepeace strode up. "Glad you decided to show up for the party, albeit late."

"Would someone like to tell me what's going on here? Carter and I got darted back in that cave and the Unas is gone."

"Doesn't surprise me one bit." With that Makepeace clapped O'Neill on the shoulder. "Let me tell you the story from a Marine's point of view."

"Later. Can we go?"

------------------------------------------

The debriefings were lengthy back at the SGC and Hammond was hard pressed to keep his temper under control. Not to mention O'Neill.

As it turned out, one of the helicopter crews was NID. They had also been followed at a discreet distance on the ground by another squad of NID men. The technician whose keys had been stolen by the Unas was NID. Was a pattern emerging here?

Oh, yeah, O'Neill was gonna have to kill something. Slowly and painfully.

Under protest Maybourne had done some digging and found out the plan. The NID wanted the Unas and had set up the escape from Nellis. They were sure they could apprehend him before he got far. They were wrong, this setting plan B into action.

"Let me guess," O'Neill growled, "Plan B for Bait. Use SG-1 to get the precious Unas."

"You could look at it that way." Maybourne wasn't offering any more information than he had to.

"So where is this Unas now?" Hammond asked.

"Ah, that would be a question to ask the NID, not me."

Hammond stood and shook his head, "One of these days Colonel Maybourne, you're going to take one step too far. When you do you won't be able to find a planet far enough away to hide on. Dismissed."

------------------------------------------

O'Neill high-tailed it down to the infirmary where Carter was still being held prisoner. He stuck his head in the door and saw Frasier just stepping away from the curtain around her.

"So, how's the patient, Doc?"

"She's gonna be okay. A lot of cuts, scrapes, and bruises but nothing major. I'm going to keep her overnight just to be sure."

He peered past her, "So, can I?"

"Yes, you can see her. Keep it short okay. She really needs to sleep."

"Okeedokee Doc." She shook her head and smiled as she turned away to her office. The Colonel was incorrigible but she wouldn't really want him any other way.

He dawdled a bit watching her until she was gone, then stepped in to Carter's side. The head of her bed was raised to a semi-sitting position but she wasn't stirring so he pulled up a chair and sat down beside her. He drummed his fingers lightly on his knees and listened thoughtfully. Yep, nobody here but us. He held one hand down low to the floor and snapped his fingers twice.

Soft footsteps punctuated by the click of toenails came from a hiding place in the hallway through the infirmary door he'd left ajar. O'Neill smiled and ruffled the coppery hair and patted the bed at Carter's feet. With a light bounce ninety-five pounds landed between her feet. Carter felt the bed give slightly and stirred. She opened her eyes to see, "Einstein! What are you doing here?" At the sound of his name he lunged toward her intending to kiss/lick her madly.

Carter was holding off her affectionate guest as she heard a chuckle to her side. "I think I'm gonna be jealous."

"Oh, you! How did you sneak him in here?" O'Neill just laughed. "We have our ways, Major. Okay, boy, that's enough. You can't be pushy with the ladies now, okay?" Einstein backed off with a whine and settled at the foot of the bed.

"So, you feel okay?"

"Yeah, I am." She looked down at her hands, pensive for a moment.

"You sure? What is it?"

"Sorry, Sir. I, I really thought I'd bought it this time. I thought I was gonna die." A flood of memories of the Unas beating her flowed back to her mind and she had to blink back the tears.

"Whoa, Carter, it's okay, it's over." He reached out and grabbed her hand.

She sat up and turned away, embarrassed at the show of emotion. "Sorry, Sir."

"You already said that once." He glanced at the curtain still surrounding the bed and made a decision. He got up and scooted into the bed sitting beside her. "Tears are allowed in the infirmary, didn't you know that?" He wrapped his arms around her and leaned her back to the pillows. She couldn't help but turn into his side and lay her head on his shoulder. It was nice for a minute or two but then she started to pull back, "You know someone might come in and, um."

"This wouldn't look too good. Yeah." He made a move to get up but was quickly stopped when Einstein effectively trapped him by laying his full weight on the Colonel's legs. "Ah, Einstein? What are you doing?"

O'Neill could have sworn the dog winked at him. "Carter? You ever thought about getting a dog?"

"Um, not lately. By the way, you're gonna have to tell me why Einstein is not with Maybourne."

"Oh, well, the dog got lost out there in the woods, and you and I were unconscious. I guess the NID got him."

"You're not giving him back?"

"Mutual agreement."

"Ah, you're not talking about Maybourne are you?"

"Nope."

"I really need to get some sleep. Alone."

"All right, I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

Jack. "Einstein." No movement.

Sam. "Einstein." No movement.

And together: "Einstein!"

He leapt off the bed in a single bound and trotted off. In a moment the infirmary lights dimmed.

They sat in near darkness. He was still holding her. She leaned back to look him in the eye. "You told him to do that."

"Did not."

"Did."

O'Neill slid off the bed and leaned back to her ear. "Didn't."

She giggled. He strode off to his quarters whistling. Toenails echoed down the hallway.